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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

As a freshman, I just took my first couple exams in my college career. It was daunting, but a lot of the study habits I implemented along the way truly helped me feel more confident and at ease.

I’ve definitely had to explore a lot of methods before concocting my personal formula to optimize my productivity. Here are some tips I find super helpful.

Find your productive space

It is so incredibly important to find a space that makes you feel the most productive. I prefer either a completely quiet space or a space with a little bit of background noise. I have friends who love listening to music in their headphones while they study, but I just don’t work that way. Ultimately, you have to find what’s best for you.

Make sure that whatever environment you choose is stimulating to your brain, but never overstimulating. Natural light is proven to help our alertness, so that would be a great factor to consider when choosing the perfect spot.

In my opinion, coffee shops are a great place to study because the environment helps me get motivated to work. There is a little bit of background noise, but not too much to overpower your focus. I also go to the library to study if I’m looking for a nice quiet place to study. Studying in the library allows me to fixate my attention to the material with no unwanted distractions.

If anything, don’t study in your bed.

We connect our bed to relaxation, winding down and sleeping, so it is not a productive place to work. I have tried studying in my bed, and it ends with me drifting off to sleep and waking up stressed the next day. Being able to separate these environments is essential to your study habits.

Phase out distractions

Scrolling on Instagram can turn into hours upon hours of time you could have spent preparing for a big exam. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t gotten distracted while studying. Especially today, many are attached to their phones, causing one to stray away from getting important tasks done. To prevent this from destroying my productive flow, I put my phone out of reach so I don’t get tempted to look at it. Also, I like to set a timer or stopwatch to refrain myself from picking up my phone or spiraling into a rabbit hole of scrolling.

Taking the time to focus with no distractions is such a game changer because it makes you more timely. When I work effectively for a period of time, it feels like I have worked for a longer time than what the time actually reads. This way I have more time in my day to chill as a result of really focusing on my work getting done.

Have a drink or snack on standby

I personally love having a drink or snack at my disposal while working. I feel as though it gives me more fuel in my tank to then exert it into my studying or homework.

One thing I would say is to choose a snack or beverage that will give you that sense of energy. My personal favorites are hummus with pretzels, cashews, celery sticks with ranch, fruit and popcorn. Snacks such as potato chips and sugary candies can impede on your productivity and fail to add to your energy. For drinks, I love a matcha, chai or shaken expresso if I’m working at a coffee shop. A caffeine boost can temporarily help with energy levels. Water is super important to have on hand because it truly keeps you hydrated and focused.

know your Prime focus time and attention span

Knowing the specific times in the day when you are most focused can be extremely helpful in leveling up your study habits. Whether you are an early bird or night owl, studying at your ideal time can lengthen your focus and motivation. I personally take this day by day because I can be both a morning and night person.

Knowing how long you can focus is essential to having a great study session. Set a stopwatch to see how long you can work without stopping and see what your average work time is. You always should make sure you are not overworking your brain or attention span because that only makes you less productive. Try to stick to a pattern and see what works for you. When I’m doing homework or studying, I like to switch up my tasks if I’m feeling unmotivated and exhausted by working on the same thing for too long. This ultimately elongates my work sessions in a productive way because I can keep things interesting with a variety of tasks.

rewrite and vocalize notes as cumulative review

I am a huge advocate for handwritten notes. Besides, handwritten notes are scientifically proven to improve memory recall.

I recently studied for an exam using this method, causing me to feel more confident about the exam material. I went through my notes from class and rewrote the critical information. Then, I proceeded to “teach myself” and talk through the notes. It may be awkward from an outside perspective, but this immensely helps me absorb and understand the material better. If you are with a friend, you can teach them the material and see if it’s understandable to a person with no prior knowledge.

In doing this, I received a grade I was proud of, and I aim to use this routine going forward.

Repetition and application

This one is pretty self explanatory and very important in studying.

Reading over your notes from class is not effective enough in truly understanding the material. Repetition is a key tool in becoming familiar enough with it to then apply it on the exam. This could mean making flashcards, rewriting it multiple times and much more.

In addition, application is what will help you because exams are all about applying the material you’ve learned in class in different questions or scenarios. Doing practice questions or working through a study guide is a tip I highly recommend implementing into your study routine.

Rylee Brown is a part of the writing team at the Her Campus at KU chapter. She gravitates towards writing about pop culture, psychology, sociology, self-care and college life. Beyond Her Campus, Rylee is a member of the University Dance Company and Swift Society. She is also a part of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority at KU. She is currently a freshman in the honors program and majoring in Business Marketing and Strategic Communications. In her free time, Rylee loves to dance, write, listen to music and hang out with friends. Some of her favorite TV shows include The Office, The Bachelor/Bachelorette and The Summer I Turned Pretty, and one of her favorite movies is La La Land. Her favorite Taylor Swift albums are folklore and reputation. She has also been dancing for over 10 years in various different styles.